Following the admonition for the disciples to be humble servants who care for vulnerable children and the promise that those who offer kindnesses (a cup of water to the thirsty) will receive their reward, Christ urges men to avoid temptation and sin at all costs. Mincing no words, Christ reveals it is better to be strangled and drowned with a huge millstone around one’s neck then the fate of those who purposefully cause a” little one” (child; someone vulnerable in their care) to sin. Christ’s severe warning refers to both disciples who by scandal or false teaching lead others to sin and also to adults who deceive or prey on the young and vulnerable.

Christ confirms the reality of the Kingdom of Heaven and Hell, offering insights into the horrors of Hell. Hell is described as “unquenchable fire” in which worms eternally feed on flesh do not die. From Christ’s words, it’s clear that Hell is much worse than the agony that men on earth could imagine: Hell is worse than gouging out your eye and being partially blind, chopping off a hand and living life maimed or cutting off one’s foot and being lame for your remaining life on earth. Christ confirms that Hell is horrible.

Given the horrors of Hell, Christ uses hyperbole (exaggeration) to describe the lengths that men should take to avoid temptation to sin; He insists that a man should willingly gouge out an eye or cut off a hand or foot it they lead a man into temptation to avoid Hell. The flip side is also true: the eternal bliss of being united with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven is worth the greatest of sacrifices. Christ urges men to “salt” (to give their greatest effort) their spiritual lives so as to be a blessing of peace (in full communion) to others.

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ affirms the reality of the Kingdom of God and Hell (“unquenchable fire”).  Divine King, Christ makes extraordinary demands of His men. Divine Prophet, Christ urges His disciples to high levels of holiness. Divine Judge, Christ alludes to the awful severity of punishment that comes to those who lead others into sin and describes how the sinful are violently “thrown” into Hell.

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Despite Christ’s warning about misleading others, many have promoted a false Christ who is like a totally non-judgmental friend. Reflect on Christ’s actual words which clearly warn of His violent punishment (thrown into unquenchable fire) for those who sin and lead others into sin. Holy fear is warranted.

2) Christ makes it absolutely clear that Hell exists and it is horrific. Renew your understanding of Hell (CCC 1033-1037) and pray for Christ to lead you to Heaven.

3) Having dominated Satan in the Temptation, Christ urges men to be deadly serious about avoiding temptation. Review the Catechism’s sections on Temptation (CCC 1808; 2846-2849; 2863) and pray for Christ to give you the fortitude to avoid temptation.

Spiritual Practices – Include in Today’s Prayers

Sacred Mystery of Rosary – The Luminous Mysteries

Daily Devotion – The Holy Eucharist

Virtue of the Day – Fortitude

Corporal Work of Mercy – To shelter the homeless

Spiritual Work of Mercy – To bear wrongs patiently